Why Flickr and Alan Levine Rock

If you still see flickr as simple a photo sharing site, you’d be sadly mistaken.  The ways in which its users have crafted endless ways to leverage their photos continues to increase. The following is simply a few insights into my learning via flickr.

Thanks to D’arcy Norman’s inspiring work of 2007, a number of us decided to take on the challenge of shooting a photo a day. 48 days into it and I’ve certainly become more visually aware and I believe more literate.  Part of the power of joining a group in flickr is to be able to see how many are trying to achieve the same thing but in a myriad of ways. Amazing learning takes place.

Subscribing to the 366photo feed allows me to see everyone’s efforts. Today I was struck by a seemingly innocent photo of a child’s rocking chair taken by Alan Levine.

Flashback to the day before. Alan writes about his “pathetic” photo,

A photo of a corner of my roof makes my 366photos of the day? Could this be the most pathetic day of the year (that i always possible). No, this marks a spot where something was but is no more. Today, I sold the Hughes Satellite Internet Dish that sat here for 2 years. Since moving to Strawberry, I got more reliable (used loosely in a small town) cable internet service. I posted a few paper flowers down at the market and Post Office in Pine, but shazam, it was Craigslist that connected me with a family near Snowflake AZ (look it up actually named for town cofounders with last names of “Snow” and “Flake” and thus could have just as easily been called “Flakesnow”) that needed a dish to get to the net. So in a contemplative mood I am wondering- we typically focus on a photograph as a means to “grab” or portray something that is there– but is there room or a place to consider perhaps “negative space” photography, the portrayal of a place where something is not there? On a less philosophical note- proceeds of this sale have underwritten the costs of my new western footwear…

Every picture has a story. If you aren’t already aware, you need to understand that Alan is a master at this type of storytelling. Witness his efforts to tell the same story about his dog Dominoe using 49 different online storytelling tools. So now we move to today’s post of the chair. I won’t attempt to share the contents of the story, you need to read it for yourself,but I hope we begin to see how powerful and important it is to think about how we see the world. All of us have hundreds of these images stored in our memory filled with beautiful, sad, scary, disturbing, inspiring stories that are waiting to be shared. Yes shared.  Okay, keep some of them private but I as I commented to Alan:

What a privilege to be in a community where people feel vulnerable enough to share such depth. To think a seemingly innocent photo a a rocking chair could illicit such emotion and meaning….if your last photo was your most pathetic (I doubt if it is) this might be your most powerful.

Images: David’s Rocking Chair by Alan Levine

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  • If you like this, you should check out what he wrote about the Flickr tag “Flicktion”. Not only a great way to engage students, but a great way to do exactly what you mentioned above, share yourself, to create depth. It’s in its infancy but seems like it has untapped potential.

  • Thanks for the glowing words Dean. Flickr definitely rocks, I may occasionally roll.

    I have been experimenting with taking more time with my captions. I usually try to make a unique title and caption for my photos, a lot of work when there is a big batch, but I hate those ones where all it says is “IMG_872630.JPG” bleccccchhhh poooiey.

    But seriously, there is something very powerful and simple about weaving together an important or meaningful picture and some words that are more than an after thought- its easy when its a personal story. But I have been hoping to find an example of someone who does regular blogging via flickr, like using flickr as a full fledged blog. Why not, it has everything you need (except spam).

    So just take one photo maybe a week, a month, and fill it out with a story, a poem, a “this is what was happening to me when I took this photo”, or make it a message to someone else.

  • Nicole L.

    Absolutely love this post- yes, photography is an amazing tool to share how we see the world. I’ve been following an amazing blog called Curiously Incongruous that doesn’t include written summaries, but just through a title and a well-composed shot, the author is able to show you how he feels about London England, a place usually portrayed through the cheesy tourist’s view.
    I was sifting through my own digital photographs the other day, thinking of the memories that go with them. Maybe it’s time I start a photo blog. My photos definately have their own stories built in that they could tell.

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